Table of Contents / Preface (33 references)
In every narrative, whether historical or biographical, authenticity is of the utmost consequence. Of this I have ever been so firmly persuaded, that I inscribed a former work to that person who was the best judge of its truth. I need not tell you I mean General Paoli; who, after his great, though unsuccessful, efforts to preserve the liberties of his country, has found an honourable asylum in Britain, where he has now lived many years the object of Royal regard and private respect; and whom I cannot name without expressing my very grateful sense of the uniform kindness which he has been pleased to shew me.
Chapter 1 (33 references)
Here I obtained a promise from Lord Chief Baron Orde, that he would dine at my house next day. I presented Mr Johnson to his Lordship, who politely said to him, 'I have not the honour of knowing you; but I hope for it, and to see you at my house. I am to wait on you tomorrow.' This respectable English judge will be long remembered in Scotland, where he built an elegant house, and lived in it magnificently. His own ample fortune, with the addition of his salary, enabled him to be splendidly hospitable. It may be fortunate for an individual amongst ourselves to be Lord Chief Baron; and a most worthy man now has the office; but, in my opinion, it is better for Scotland in general, that some of our publick employments should be filled by gentlemen of distinction from the south side of the Tweed, as we have the benefit of promotion in England. Such an interchange would make a beneficial mixture of manners, and render our union more complete. Lord Chief Baron Orde was on good terms with us all, in a narrow country filled with jarring interests and keen parties; and, though I well knew his opinion to be the same with my own, he kept himself aloof at a very critical period indeed, when the Douglas cause shook the sacred security of birthright in Scotland to its foundation; a cause, which had it happened before the Union, when there was no appeal to a British House of Lords, would have left the great fortress of honours and of property in ruins.
Chapter 2 (33 references)
I here began to indulge old Scottish sentiments, and to express a warm regret, that, by our union with England, we were no more--our independent kingdom was lost. JOHNSON. 'Sir, never talk of your independency, who could let your Queen remain twenty years in captivity, and then be put to death, without even a pretence of justice, without your ever attempting to rescue her; and such a Queen too! as every man of any gallantry of spirit would have sacrificed his life for.' Worthy MR JAMES KERR, Keeper of the Records. 'Half our nation was bribed by English money.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, that is no defence: that makes you worse.' Good MR BROWN, Keeper of the Advocates Library. 'We had better say nothing about it.' BOSWELL. 'You would have been glad, however, to have had us last war, sir, to fight your battles!' JOHNSON. 'We should have had you for the same price, though there had been no Union, as we might have had Swiss, or other troops. No, no, I shall agree to a separation. You have only to GO HOME.' Just as he had said this, I to divert the subject, shewed him the signed assurances of the three successive Kings of the Hanover family, to maintain the Presbyterian establishment in Scotland. 'We'll give you that,' said he, 'into the bargain.'
Chapter 3 (33 references)
At dinner this day, we had Sir Alexander Dick, whose amiable character, and ingenious and cultivated mind, are so generally known (he was then on the verge of seventy, and is now (1785) eighty-one, with his faculties entire, his heart warm, and his temper gay); Sir David Dalrymple; Lord Hailes; Mr Maclaurin, advocate; Dr Gregory, who now worthily fills his father's medical chair; and my uncle, Dr Boswell. This was one of Dr Johnson's best days. He was quite in his element. All was literature and taste, without any interruption. Lord Hailes, who is one of the best philologists in Great Britain, who has written papers in the World, and a variety of other works in prose and in verse, both Latin and English, pleased him highly. He told him, he had discovered the Life of Cheynel, in the Student, to be his. JOHNSON. 'No one else knows it.' Dr Johnson had, before this, dictated to me a law-paper, upon a question purely in the law of Scotland, concerning 'vicious intromission', that is to say, intermeddling with the effects of a deceased person, without a regular title; which formerly was understood to subject the intermeddler to payment of all the defunct's debts. The principle has of late been relaxed. Dr Johnson's argument was, for a renewal of its strictness. The paper was printed, with additions by me, and given into the Court of Session. Lord Hailes knew Dr Johnson's part not to be mine, and pointed out exactly where it began, and where it ended. Dr Johnson said, 'It is much, now, that his lordship can distinguish so.'
Chapter 4 (33 references)
On this day we set out from Edinburgh. We should gladly have had Mr Scott to go with us; but he was obliged to return to England. I have given a sketch of Dr Johnson: my readers may wish to know a little of his fellow traveller. Think then, of a gentleman of ancient blood, the pride of which was his predominant passion. He was then in his thirty-third year, and had been about four years happily married. His inclination was to be a soldier; but his father, a respectable judge, had pressed him into the profession of the law. He had travelled a good deal, and seen many varieties of human life. He had thought more than any body supposed, and had a pretty good stock of general learning and knowledge. He had all Dr Johnson's principles, with some degree of relaxation. He had rather too little, than too much prudence, and, his imagination being lively, he often said things of which the effect was very different from the intention. He resembled sometimes
Chapter 5 (33 references)
We talked of change of manners. Dr Johnson observed, that our drinking less than our ancestors was owing to the change from ale to wine. 'I remember,' said he, 'when all the DECENT people in Lichfield got drunk every night, and were not the worse thought of. Ale was cheap, so you pressed strongly. When a man must bring a bottle of wine, he is not in such haste. Smoking has gone out. To be sure, it is a shocking thing, blowing smoke out of our mouths into other people's mouths, eyes, and noses, and having the same thing done to us. Yet I cannot account, why a thing which requires so little exertion, and yet preserves the mind from total vacuity, should have gone out. Every man has something by which he calms himself: beating with his feet, or so. [Footnote: Dr Johnson used to practice this himself very much.] I remember when people in England changed a shirt only once a week: a Pandour, when he gets a shirt, greases it to make it last. Formerly, good tradesmen had no fire but in the kitchen; never in the parlour, except on Sunday. My father, who was a magistrate of Lichfield, lived thus. They never began to have a fire in the parlour, but on leaving off business, or some great revolution of their life.' Dr Watson said, the hall was as a kitchen, in old squires' houses. JOHNSON. 'No, sir. The hall was for great occasions, and never was used for domestick reflection.' We talked of the Union, and what money it had brought into Scotland. Dr Watson observed, that a little money formerly went as far as a great deal now. JOHNSON. 'In speculation, it seems that a smaller quantity of money, equal in value to a larger quantity, if equally divided, should produce the same effect. But it is not so in reality. Many more conveniences and elegancies are enjoyed where money is plentiful, than where it is scarce. Perhaps a great familiarity with it, which arises from plenty, makes us more easily part with it.'
Chapter 6 (33 references)
We went and saw Colonel Nairne's garden and grotto. Here was a fine old plane tree. Unluckily the colonel said, there was but this and another large tree in the county. This assertion was an excellent cue for Dr Johnson, who laughed enormously, calling to me to hear it. He had expatiated to me on the nakedness of that part of Scotland which he had seen. His Journey has been violently abused, for what he has said upon this subject. But let it be considered, that, when Dr Johnson talks of trees, he means trees of good size, such as he was accustomed to see in England; and of these there are certainly very few upon the EASTERN COAST of Scotland. Besides, he said, that he meant to give only a map of the road; and let any traveller observe how many trees, which deserve the name, he can see from the road from Berwick to Aberdeen. Had Dr Johnson said, 'there are NO trees' upon this line, he would have said what is colloquially true; because, by no trees, in common speech, we mean few. When he is particular in counting, he may be attacked. I know not how Colonel Nairne came to say there were but TWO large trees in the county of Fife. I did not perceive that he smiled. There are certainly not a great many; but I could have shewn him more than two at Balmuto, from whence my ancestors came, and which now belongs to a branch of my family.
Chapter 7 (33 references)
He and my lord spoke highly of Homer. JOHNSON. 'He had all the learning of his age. The shield of Achilles shews a nation in war, a nation in peace; harvest sport, nay stealing.' [Footnote: My note of this is much too short. Brevis esse laboro, obscurus fio. Yet as I have resolved that THE VERY Journal WHICH DR JOHNSON READ, shall be presented to the publick, I will not expand the text in any considerable degree, though I may occasionally supply a word to complete the sense, as I fill up the blanks of abbreviation in the writing; neither of which can be said to change the genuine Journal. One of the best criticks of our age conjectures that the imperfect passage above has probably been as follows: 'In his book we have an accurate display of a nation in war, and a nation in peace; the peasant is delineated as truly as the general; nay, even harvest-sport, and the modes of ancient theft are described.'] MONBODDO. 'Ay, and what we' (looking to me)?'would call a parliament-house scene; a cause pleaded.' JOHNSON. 'That is part of the life of a nation in peace. And there are in Homer such characters of heroes, and combinations of qualities of heroes, that the united powers of mankind ever since have not produced any but what are to be found there.' MONBODDO. 'Yet no character is described.' JOHNSON. 'No; they all develope themselves. Agamemnon is always a gentleman-like character; he has always . That the ancients held so, is plain from this; that Euripides, in his Hecuba, makes him the person to interpose.' [Footnote: Dr Johnson modestly said, he had not read Homer so much as he wished he had done. But this conversation shews how well he was acquainted with the Moeonian bard; and he has shewn it still more in his criticism upon Pope's Homer, in his Life of that poet. My excellent friend, Mr Langton, told me, he was once present at a dispute between Dr Johnson and Mr Burke, on the comparative merits of Homer and Virgil, which was carried on with extraordinary abilities on both sides. Dr Johnson maintained the superiority of Homer.] MONBODDO. 'The history of manners is the most valuable. I never set a high value on any other history.' JOHNSON. 'Nor I; and therefore I esteem biography, as giving us what comes near to ourselves, what we can turn to use.' BOSWELL. 'But in the course of general history, we find manners. In wars, we see the dispositions of people, their degrees of humanity, and other particulars.' JOHNSON. 'Yes; but then you must take all the facts to get this; and it is but a little you get.' MONBODDO. 'And it is that little which makes history valuable.' Bravo! thought I; they agree like two brothers. MONBODDO. 'I am sorry, Dr Johnson, you were not longer at Edinburgh, to receive the homage of our men of learning.' JOHNSON. 'My lord, I received great respect and great kindness.' BOSWELL. 'He goes back to Edinburgh after our tour.' We talked of the decrease of learning in Scotland, and the Muses' Welcome. JOHNSON. 'Learning is much decreased in England, in my remembrance.' MONBODDO. 'You, sir, have lived to see its decrease in England, I its extinction in Scotland.' However, I brought him to confess that the High School of Edinburgh did well. JOHNSON. 'Learning has decreased in England, because learning will not do so much for a man as formerly. There are other ways of getting preferment. Few bishops are now made for their learning. To be a bishop, a man must be learned in a learned age, factious in a factious age; but always of eminence. Warburton is an exception; though his learning alone did not raise him. He was first an antagonist to Pope, and helped Theobald to publish his Shakspeare; but, seeing Pope the rising man, when Crousaz attacked his Essay on Man, for some faults which it has, and some which it has not, Warburton defended it in the Review of that time. This brought him acquainted with Pope, and he gained his friendship. Pope introduced him to Allen, Allen married him to his niece: so, by Allen's interest and his own, he was made a bishop. But then his learning was the sine qua non: he knew how to make the most of it; but I do not find by any dishonest means.' MONBODDO. 'He is a great man.' JOHNSON. 'Yes; he has great knowledge, great power of mind. Hardly any man brings greater variety of learning to bear upon his point.' MONBODDO. 'He is one of the greatest lights of your church.' JOHNSON. 'Why, we are not so sure of his being very friendly to us. He blazes, if you will, but that is not always the steadiest light. Lowth is another bishop who has risen by his learning.'
Chapter 8 (33 references)
We walked down to the shore. Dr Johnson laughed to hear that Cromwell's soldiers taught the Aberdeen people to make shoes and stockings, and to plant cabbages. He asked, if weaving the plaids was ever a domestick art in the Highlands, like spinning or knitting. They could not inform him here. But he conjectured probably, that where people lived so remote from each other, it was likely to be a domestick art; as we see it was among the ancients, from Penelope. I was sensible to-day, to an extraordinary degree, of Dr Johnson's excellent English pronunciation. I cannot account for its striking me more now than any other day: but it was as if new to me; and I listened to every sentence which he spoke, as to a musical composition. Professor Gordon gave him an account of the plan of education in his college. Dr Johnson said, it was similar to that at Oxford. Waller the poet's great grandson was studying here. Dr Johnson wondered that a man should send his son so far off, when there were so many good schools in England. He said, 'At a great school there is all the splendour and illumination of many minds; the radiance of all is concentrated in each, or at least reflected upon each. But we must own that neither a dull boy, nor an idle boy, will do so well at a great school as at a private one. For at a great school there are always boys enough to do well easily, who are sufficient to keep up the credit of the school; and after whipping being tried to no purpose, the dull or idle boys are left at the end of a class, having the appearance of going through the course, but learning nothing at all. Such boys may do good at a private school, where constant attention is paid to them, and they are watched. So that the question of publick or private education is not properly a general one; but whether one or the other is best for MY SON.'
Chapter 9 (33 references)
Principal Campbell, Sir Alexander Gordon, Professor Gordon, and Professor Ross, visited us in the morning, as did Dr Gerard, who had come six miles from the country on purpose. We went and saw the Marischal College, [Footnote: Dr Beattie was so kindly entertained in England, that he had not yet returned home.] and at one o'clock we waited on the magistrates in the town hall, as they had invited us in order to present Dr Johnson with the freedom of the town, which Provost Jopp did with a very good grace. Dr Johnson was much pleased with this mark of attention, and received it very politely. There was a pretty numerous company assembled. It was striking to hear all of them drinking?'Dr Johnson! Dr Johnson!' in the town-hall of Aberdeen, and then to see him with his burgess-ticket, or diploma, [Footnote: Dr Johnson's burgess-ticket was in these words:
Chapter 10 (33 references)
We set out about eight in the morning, and breakfasted at Ellon. The landlady said to me, 'Is not this the great Doctor that is going about through the country?' I said, 'Yes.' 'Ay,' said she, 'we heard of him, I made an errand into the room on purpose to see him. There's something great in his appearance: it is a pleasure to have such a man in one's house; a man who does so much good. If I had thought of it, I would have shewn him a child of mine, who has had a lump on his throat for some time.' 'But,' said I, 'he is not a doctor of physick.' 'Is he an oculist?' said the landlord. 'No,' said I, 'he is only a very learned man.' LANDLORD. 'They say he is the greatest man in England, except Lord Mansfield.' Dr Johnson was highly entertained with this, and I do think he was pleased too. He said, 'I like the exception: to have called me the greatest man in England, would have been an unmeaning compliment: but the exception marked that the praise was in earnest; and, in SCOTLAND, the exception must be LORD MANSFIELD, or--SIR JOHN PRINGLE.'
Chapter 11 (33 references)
I started a thought this afternoon which amused us a great part of the way. 'If,' said I, 'our club should come and set up in St Andrews, as a college, to teach all that each of us can, in the several departments of learning and taste, we should rebuild the city: we should draw a wonderful concourse of students.' Dr Johnson entered fully into the spirit of this project. We immediately fell to distributing the offices. I was to teach civil and Scotch law; Burke, politicks and eloquence; Garrick, the art of publick speaking; Langton was to be our Grecian, Colman our Latin professor; Nugent to teach physick; Lord Charlemont, modern history; Beauclerk, natural philosophy; Vesey, Irish antiquities, or Celtick learning;[Footnote: Since the first edition, it has been suggested by one of the clubs, who knew Mr Vesey better than Dr Johnson and I, that we did not assign him a proper place; for he was quite unskilled in Irish antiquities and Celtick learning, but might with propriety have been made professor of architecture, which he understood well, and has left a very good specimen of his knowledge and taste in that art, by an elegant house built on a plan of his own formation, at Lucan, a few miles from Dublin.] Jones, Oriental learning; Goldsmith, poetry and ancient history; Chamier, commercial politicks; Reynolds, painting, and the arts which have beauty for their object; Chambers, the law of England. Dr Johnson at first said. 'I'll trust theology to nobody but myself.' But, upon due consideration, that Percy is a clergyman, it was agreed that Percy should teach practical divinity and British antiquities; Dr Johnson himself, logick, metaphysicks and scholastick divinity. In this manner did we amuse ourselves, each suggesting, and each varying or adding, till the whole was adjusted. Dr Johnson said, we only wanted a mathematician since Dyer died, who was a very good one; but as to every thing else, we should have a very capital university, [Footnote: Our club, originally at the Turk's Head, Gerrard Street, then at Prince's, Sackville Street, now at Baxter's Dover Street, which at Mr Garrick's funeral acquired a name for the first time, and was called The Literary Club, was instituted in 1764, and now consists of thirty-five members. It has, since 1773, been greatly augmented; and though Dr Johnson with justice observed, that, by losing Goldsmith, Garrick, Nugent, Chamier, Beauclerk, we had lost what would make an eminent club, yet when I mention, as an accession, Mr Fox, Dr George Fordyce, Sir Charles Bunbury, Lord Offory, Mr Gibbon, Dr Adam Smith, Mr R. B. Sheridan, the Bishops of Kilaloe and St Asaph, Dean Marlay, Mr Steevens, Mr Dunning, Sir Joseph Banks, Dr Scott of the Commons, Earl Spencer, Mr Windham of Norfolk, Lord Elliot, Mr Malone, Dr Joseph Warton, the Rev. Thomas Warton, Lord Lucan, Mr Burke junior, Lord Palmerston, Dr Burney, Sir William Hamilton, and Dr Warren, it will be acknowledged that we might establish a second university of high reputation.]
Chapter 12 (33 references)
Mr Robertson sent a servant with us, to shew us through Lord Findlater's wood, by which our way was shortened, and we saw some part of his domain, which is indeed admirably laid out. Dr Johnson did not choose to walk through it. He always said, that he was not come to Scotland to see fine places, of which there were enough in England; but wild objects--mountains, waterfalls, peculiar manners; in short, things which he had not seen before. I have a notion that he at no time has had much taste for rural beauties. I have myself very little.
Chapter 14 (33 references)
Before dinner we examined the fort. The Major explained the fortification to us, and Mr Ferne gave us an account of the stores. Dr Johnson talked of the proportions of charcoal and salt-petre in making gunpowder, of granulating it, and of giving it a gloss. He made a very good figure upon these topicks. He said to me afterwards, that he had talked OSTENTATIOUSLY. We reposed ourselves a little in Mr Ferne's house. He had every thing in neat order as in England; and a tolerable collection of books. I looked into Pennant's Tour in Scotland. He says little of this fort; but that 'the barracks, &c. form several streets'. This is aggrandizing. Mr Ferne observed, if he had said they form a square, with a row of buildings before it, he would have given a juster description. Dr Johnson remarked, 'how seldom descriptions correspond with realities; and the reason is, that people do not write them till some time after, and then their imagination has added circumstances'.
Chapter 17 (33 references)
The room had some deals laid across the joists, as a kind of ceiling. There were two beds in the room, and a woman's gown was hung on a rope to make a curtain of separation between them. Joseph had sheets, which my wife had sent with us, laid on them. We had much hesitation, whether to undress, or lie down with our clothes on. I said at last. 'I'll plunge in! There will be less harbour for vermin about me, when I am stripped!' Dr Johnson said, he was like one hesitating whether to go into the cold bath. At last he resolved too. I observed, he might serve a campaign. JOHNSON. 'I could do all that can be done by patience: whether I should have strength enough, I know not.' He was in excellent humour. To see the Rambler as I saw him tonight, was really an amusement. I yesterday told him, I was thinking of writing a poetical letter to him. On his Return from Scotland, in the stile of Swift's humorous epistle in the character of Mary Gulliver to her husband, Captain Lemuel Gulliver, on his return to England from the country of the Houyhnhums:
Chapter 18 (33 references)
[Footnote: The M'Craas, or Macraes, were since that time brought into the king's army, by the late Lord Seaforth. When they lay in Edinburgh castle in 1778, and were ordered to embark for Jersey, they with a number of other men in the regiment, for different reasons, but especially an apprehension that they were to be sold to the East-India Company, though enlisted not to be sent out of Great-Britain without their own consent, made a determined mutiny and encamped upon the lofty mountain, Arthur's Seat, where they remained three days and three nights; bidding defiance to all the force in Scotland. At last they came down, and embarked peaceably, having obtained formal articles of capitulation, signed by Sir Adolphus Oughton, commander in chief, General Skene, deputy commander, the Duke of Buccleugh, and the Earl of Dunmore, which quieted them. Since the secession of the Commons of Rome to the Mons Sacer, a more spirited exertion has not been made. I gave great attention to it from first to last, and have drawn up a particular account of it. Those brave fellows have since served their country effectually at Jersey, and also in the East Indies, to which, alter being better informed, they voluntarily agreed to go.]
Chapter 22 (33 references)
And to his countrymen in this isle. For whose benefit he had planned Many useful improvements, Which his fruitful genius suggested. And his active spirit promoted. Under the sober direction Of a clear and enlightened understanding. Reader, bewail our loss, And that of all Britain. In testimony of her love, And as the best return she can make To her departed son. For the constant tenderness and affection Which, even to his last moments, He shewed for her. His much afflicted mother. The LADY MARGARET MACDONALD, Daughter to the EARL of EGLINTOUNE, Erected this Monument, A.D. 1768.
Chapter 30 (33 references)
What he meant by writing them I could not tell. [Footnote: Since the first edition of this book, an ingenious friend has observed to me, that Dr Johnson had probably been thinking on the reward which was offered by government for the apprehension of the grandson of King James II and that he meant by these words to express his admiration of the Highlanders, whose fidelity and attachment had resisted the golden temptation that had been held out to them.] He had caught cold a day or two ago, and the rain yesterday having made it worse, he was become very deaf. At breakfast he said, he would have given a good deal rather than not have lain in that bed. I owned he was the lucky man; and observed, that without doubt it had been contrived between Mrs Macdonald and him. She seemed to acquiesce; adding, 'You know young BUCKS are always favourites of the ladies.' He spoke of Prince Charles being here, and asked Mrs Macdonald, 'WHO was with him? We were told, madam, in England, there was one Miss Flora Macdonald with him.' She said, 'they were very right'; and perceiving Dr Johnson's curiosity, though he had delicacy enough not to question her, very obligingly entertained him with a recital of the particulars which she herself knew of that escape, which does so much honour to the humanity, fidelity, and generosity, of the Highlanders. Dr Johnson listened to her with placid attention, and said, 'All this should be written down.'
Chapter 35 (33 references)
Before breakfast, Dr Johnson came up to my room, to forbid me to mention that this was his birthday; but I told him I had done it already; at which he was displeased; I suppose from wishing to have nothing particular done on his account. Lady M'Leod and I got into a warm dispute. She wanted to build a house upon a farm which she has taken, about five miles from the castle, and to make gardens and other ornaments there; all of which I approved of; but insisted that the seat of the family should always be upon the rock of Dunvegan. JOHNSON. 'Ay, in time we'll build all round this rock. You may make a very good house at the farm; but it must not be such as to tempt the Laird of M'Leod to go thither to reside. Most of the great families of England have a secondary residence, which is called a jointure-house: let the new house be of that kind.' The lady insisted that the rock was very inconvenient; that there was no place near it where a good garden could be made; that it must always be the rude place; that it was a Herculean labour to make a dinner here. I was vexed to find the alloy of modern refinement in a lady who had so much old family spirit. 'Madam,' said I, 'if once you quit this rock, there is no knowing where you may settle. You move five miles first, then to St Andrews, as the late laird did; then to Edinburgh; and so on till you end at Hampstead, or in France. No, no; keep to the rock: it is the very jewel of the estate. It looks as if it had been let down from heaven by the four corners, to be the residence of a chief. Have all the comforts and conveniencies of life upon it, but never leave Rorie More's cascade.' 'But,' said she, 'is it not enough if we keep it? Must we never have more convenience than Rorie More had? He had his beef brought to dinner in one basket, and his bread in another. Why not as well be Rorie More all over, as live upon his rock? And should not we tire, in looking perpetually on this rock? It is very well for you, who have a fine place, and every thing easy, to talk thus, and think of chaining honest folks to a rock. You would not live upon it yourself.' 'Yes, madam,' said I, 'I would live upon it, were I Laird of M'Leod, and should be unhappy if I were not upon it.' JOHNSON (with a strong voice, and most determined manner). 'Madam, rather than quit the old rock, Boswell would live in the pit; he would make his bed in the dungeon.' I felt a degree of elation, at finding my resolute feudal enthusiasm thus confirmed by such a sanction. The lady was puzzled a little. She still returned to her pretty farm--rich ground, fine garden. 'Madam,' said Dr Johnson, 'were they in Asia, I would not leave the rock.' My opinion on this subject is still the same. An ancient family residence ought to be a primary object; and though the situation of Dunvegan be such that little can be done here in gardening, or pleasure-ground, yet, in addition to the veneration acquired by the lapse of time, it has many circumstances of natural grandeur, suited to the seat of a Highland chief: it has the sea, islands, rocks, hills, a noble cascade; and when the family is again in opulence, something may be done by art.
Chapter 36 (33 references)
The subject of duelling was introduced. JOHNSON. 'There is no case in England where one or other of the combatants MUST die: if you have overcome your adversary by disarming him, that is sufficient, though you should not kill him; your honour, or the honour of your family, is restored, as much as it can be by a duel. It is cowardly to force your antagonist to renew the combat, when you know that you have the advantage of him by superior skill. You might just as well go and cut his throat while he is asleep in his bed. When a duel begins, it is supposed there may be an equality; because it is not always skill that prevails. It depends much on presence of mind; nay on accidents. The wind may be in a man's face. He may fall. Many such things may decide the superiority. A man is sufficiently punished, by being called out, and subjected to the risk that is in a duel.' But on my suggesting that the injured person is equally subjected to risk, he fairly owned he could not explain the rationality of duelling.
Chapter 39 (33 references)
Talking of biography, he said, he did not think that the life of any literary man in England had been well written. Beside the common incidents of life, it should tell us his studies, his mode of living, the means by which he attained to excellence, and his opinion of his own works. He told us, he had sent Derrick to Dryden's relations, to gather materials for his Life; and he believed Derrick had got all that he himself should have got; but it was nothing. He added, he had a kindness for Derrick, and was sorry he was dead.
Chapter 40 (33 references)
We had a very good ride, for about three miles, to Talisker, where Colonel M'Leod introduced us to his lady. We found here Mr Donald M'Lean, the young Laird of Col (nephew to Talisker), to whom I delivered the letter with which I had been favoured by his uncle, Professor M'Leod, at Aberdeen. He was a little lively young man. We found he had been a good deal in England, studying farming, and was resolved to improve the value of his father's lands, without oppressing his tenants, or losing the ancient Highland fashions.
Chapter 45 (33 references)
He proceeded: 'It is difficult for a farmer in England to find day- labourers, because the lowest manufacturers can always get more than a day-labourer. It is of no consequence how high the wages of manufacturers are; but it would be of very bad consequence to raise the wages of those who procure the immediate necessaries of life, for that would raise the price of provisions. Here then is a problem for politicians. It is not reasonable that the most useful body of men should be the worst paid; yet it does not appear how it can be ordered otherwise. It were to be wished, that a mode for its being otherwise were found out. In the mean time, it is better to give temporary assistance by charitable contributions to poor labourers, at times when provisions are high, than to raise their wages; because, if wages are once raised, they will never get down again.'
Chapter 52 (33 references)
During the time that Dr Johnson was thus going on, the old minister was standing with his back to the fire, cresting up erect, pulling down the front of his periwig, and talking what a great man Leibnitz was. To give an idea of the scene, would require a page with two columns; but it ought rather to be represented by two good players. The old gentleman said, Clarke was very wicked, for going so much into the Arian system. 'I will not say he was wicked,' said Dr Johnson; 'he might be mistaken.' M'LEAN. 'He was wicked, to shut his eyes against the Scriptures; and worthy men in England have since confuted him to all intents and purposes.' JOHNSON. 'I know not WHO has confuted him to ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES.' Here again there was a double talking, each continuing to maintain his own argument, without hearing exactly what the other said.
Chapter 55 (33 references)
There are several districts of sandy desart in Col. There are forty-eight lochs of fresh water; but many of them are very small--meer pools. About one half of them, however, have trout and eel. There is a great number of horses in the island, mostly of a small size. Being over-stocked, they sell some in Tir-yi, and on the main land. Their black cattle, which are chiefly rough-haired, are reckoned remarkably good. The climate being very mild in winter, they never put their beasts in any house. The lakes are never frozen so as to bear a man; and snow never lies above a few hours. They have a good many sheep, which they eat mostly themselves, and sell but a few. They have goats in several places. There are no foxes; no serpents, toads, or frogs, nor any venomous creature. They have otters and mice here; but had no rats till lately that an American vessel brought them. There is a rabbit-warren on the north-east of the island, belonging to the Duke of Argyle. Young Col intends to get some hares, of which there are none at present. There are no black-cock, muir-fowl, nor partridges; but there are snipe, wild-duck, wild-geese, and swans, in winter; wild-pidgeons, plover, and great number of starlings; of which I shot some, and found them pretty good eating. Woodcocks come hither, though there is not a tree upon the island. There are no rivers in Col; but only some brooks, in which there is a great variety of fish. In the whole isle there are but three hills, and none of them considerable, for a Highland country. The people are very industrious. Every man can tan. They get oak, and birch-bark, and lime, from the main land. Some have pits; but they commonly use tubs. I saw brogues very well tanned; and every man can make them. They all make candles of the tallow of their beasts, both moulded and dipped; and they all make oil of the livers of fish. The little fish called cuddies produce a great deal. They sell some oil out of the island, and they use it much for light in their houses, in little iron lamps, most of which they have from England; but of late their own blacksmith makes them. He is a good workman; but he has no employment in shoeing horses, for they all go unshod here, except some of a better kind belonging to young Col, which were now in Mull. There are two carpenters in Col; but most of the inhabitants can do something as boat-carpenters. They can all dye. Heath is used for yellow; and for red, a moss which grows on stones. They make broad-cloth, and tartan, and linen, of their own wool and flax, sufficient for their own use; as also stockings. Their bonnets come from the main land. Hard-ware and several small articles are brought annually from Greenock, and sold in the only shop in the island, which is kept near the house, or rather hut, used for publick worship, there being no church in the island. The inhabitants of Col have increased considerably within these thirty years, as appears from the parish registers. There are but three considerable tacksmen on Col's part of the island: the rest is let to small tenants, some of whom pay so low a rent as four, three, or even two guineas. The highest is seven pounds, paid by a farmer, whose son goes yearly on foot to Aberdeen for education, and in summer returns, and acts as a school-master in Col. Dr Johnson said, 'There is something noble in a young man's walking two hundred miles and back again, every year, for the sake of learning.'
Chapter 63 (33 references)
M'Quarrie insisted that the mercheta mulierum, mentioned in our old charters, did really mean the privilege which a lord of a manor, or a baron, had, to have the first night of all his vassals' wives. Dr Johnson said, the belief of such a custom having existed was also held in England, where there is a tenure called Borough-English, by which the eldest child does not inherit, from a doubt of his being the son of the tenant. [Footnote: Sir William Blackstone says in his Commentaries, that 'he cannot find that ever this custom prevailed in England'; and therefore he is of opinion that it could not have given rise to Borough-English.] M'Quarrie told us, that still, on the marriage of each of his tenants, a sheep is due to him; for which the composition is fixed at five shillings. I suppose, Ulva is the only place where this custom remains.
Chapter 64 (33 references)
I was quite easy with Sir Allan almost instantaneously. He knew the great intimacy that had been between my father and his predecessor, Sir Hector, and was himself of a very frank disposition. After dinner, Sir Allan said he had got Dr Campbell about a hundred subscribers to his Britannia Elucidata (a work since published under the title of A Political Survey of Great Britain), of whom he believed twenty were dead, the publication having been so long delayed. JOHNSON. 'Sir, I imagine the delay of publication is owing to this; that, after publication, there will be no more subscribers, and few will send the additional guinea to get their books: in which they will be wrong; for there will be a great deal of instruction in the work. I think highly of Campbell. In the first place, he has very good parts. In the second place, he has very extensive reading; not, perhaps, what is properly called learning, but history, politicks, and, in short, that popular knowledge which makes a man very useful. In the third place, he has learned much by what is called the vox viva. He talks with a great many people.'
Chapter 68 (33 references)
BOSWELL. 'The history of England is so strange, that, if it were not so well vouched as it is, it would hardly be credible.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, if it were told as shortly, and with as little preparation for introducing the different events, as the history of the Jewish kings, it would be equally liable to objections of improbability.' Mr M'Leod was much pleased with the justice and novelty of the thought. Dr Johnson illustrated what he had said, as follows: 'Take, as an instance, Charles the First's concessions to his parliament, which were greater and greater, in proportion as the parliament grew more insolent, and less deserving of trust. Had these concessions been related nakedly, without any detail of the circumstances which generally led to them, they would not have been believed.'
Chapter 69 (33 references)
We bade adieu to Lochbuy, and to our very kind conductor. Sir Allan M'Lean, on the shore of Mull, and then got into the ferry-boat, the bottom of which was strewed with branches of trees or bushes, upon which we sat. We had a good day and a fine passage, and in the evening landed at Oban, where we found a tolerable inn. After having been so long confined at different times in islands, from which it was always uncertain when we could get away, it was comfortable to be now on the main land, and to know that, if in health, we might get to any place in Scotland or England in a certain number of days.
Chapter 80 (33 references)
Our first day went off very smoothly. It rained, and we could not get out; but my father shewed Dr Johnson his library, which, in curious editions of the Greek and Roman classicks, is, I suppose, not excelled by any private collection in Great Britain. My father had studied at Leyden, and been very intimate with the Gronovii, and other learned men there. He was a sound scholar, and, in particular, had collated manuscripts and different editions of Anacreon, and others of the Greek lyrick poets, with great care; so that my friend and he had much matter for conversation, without touching on the fatal topicks of difference.
Chapter 81 (33 references)
Let me now make up for the present neglect, by again gleaning from the past. At Lord Monboddo's, after the conversation upon the decrease of learning in England, his Lordship mentioned Hermes by Mr Harris of Salisbury, as the work of a living authour, for whom he had a great respect. Dr Johnson said nothing at the time; but when we were in our post-chaise, told me, he thought Harris 'a coxcomb'. This he said of him, not as a man, but as an authour; and I give his opinions of men and books, faithfully, whether they agree with my own, or not. I do admit, that there always appeared to me something of affectation in Mr Harris's manner of writing; something of a habit of clothing plain thoughts in analytick and categorical formality. But all his writings are imbued with learning; and all breathe that philanthropy and amiable disposition, which distinguished him as a man. [Footnote: This gentleman, though devoted to the study of grammar and dialecticks, was not so absorbed in it as to be without a sense of pleasantry, or to be offended at his favourite topicks being treated lightly. I one day met him in the street, as I was hastening to the House of Lords, and told him, I was sorry I could not stop, being rather too late to attend an appeal of the Duke of Hamilton against Douglas. 'I thought,' said he, 'their contest had been over long ago.' I answered, 'The contest concerning Douglas's filiation was over long ago; but the contest now is, who shall have the estate.' Then, assuming the air of 'an antient sage philosopher', I proceeded thus: 'Were I to PREDICATE concerning him, I should say, the contest formerly was, What IS he? The contest now is, What HAS he?' 'Right,' replied Mr Harris, smiling, 'you have done with QUALITY, and have got into QUANTITY.']
Chapter 88 (33 references)
Mr Nairne came in, and he and I accompanied Dr Johnson to Edinburgh castle, which he owned was 'a great place'. But I must mention, as a striking instance of that spirit of contradiction to which he had a strong propensity, when Lord Elibank was some days after talking of it with the natural elation of a Scotchman, or of any man who is proud of a stately fortress in his own country, Dr Johnson affected to despise it, observing that, 'it would make a good PRISON in ENGLAND'.
Chapter 89 (33 references)
At Lady Colvill's, to whom I am proud to introduce any stranger of eminence, that he may see what dignity and grace is to be found in Scotland, an officer observed, that he had heard Lord Mansfield was not a great English lawyer. JOHNSON. 'Why, sir, supposing Lord Mansfield not to have the splendid talents which he possesses, he must be a great English lawyer, from having been so long at the bar, and having passed through so many of the great offices of the law. Sir, you may as well maintain that a carrier, who has driven a packhorse between Edinburgh and Berwick for thirty years, does not know the road, as that Lord Mansfield does not know the law of England.'